Casa Duque, Segovia, Spain

A while back Le Continental visited Mesón de Cándido in the beautiful city of Segovia, Spain. While it is a classic that dates back to 1931, Casa Duque is the oldest restaurant in the city offering cochinillo asado, roasted suckling pig, which the city of Segovia is famous for. Le Continental has discovered that Casa Duque and Mesón de Cándido are linked somehow, though it isn’t mentioned on the restaurants’ web sites.


image by Wikimedia Commons

image by Wikimedia Commons


Casa Duque was opened in 1895 by Feliciana Mate and Dionisio Duque and is still owned by the Duque family. Today Marisa Duque, great-granddaughter of the original founders, runs the restaurant with her family. In looking at historic photos of Casa Duque on their web site, one photo of the restaurant, then located on Plaza de Azoquejo next to the Roman aqueduct, looked familiar to me (the following photo).


historic photo by Casa Duque's web site

historic photo by Casa Duque’s web site


As you can see the building on the right has a sign stating “Duque de Gran Casa de Comidas”. The same building in fact now houses Mesón de Cándido! On that restaurant’s web site there is a similar historic photo of the same building which has signage that states “Mesón Casa Cándido” (I couldn’t download the photo but you can see it here in the center of second row). In examining the two photos, especially the cars, it seems to me that the photo above dates from the 1920s, while the photo of Mesón de Cándido dates from the 1930s or 1940s, which makes sense since Mesón de Cándido didn’t open until 1931. So, some time after 1895 Casa Duque must have moved from the plaza to its current location. (Little of this information is mentioned on the restaurants’ web sites.)


doorway from bar into Sepulveda dining room - photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

doorway from bar into Sepulveda dining room – photo by Dean Curtis, 2014


After entering Casa Duque one passes the bar and enters the Sepulveda dining room, which is the original dining room in the restaurant, through a beautiful carved wood doorway. I was seated in this dining room for my dinner. It was almost empty at the time (around 9:00 pm) as most locals eat their large daily meal in the early afternoon.


Sepulveda dining room - photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

Sepulveda dining room – photo by Dean Curtis, 2014


The walls at Casa Duque are covered with awards, medals, historic photos, and bric-à-brac and the wood ceilings are magnificent. There are several dining rooms in this large restaurant. I took a couple more photos before my phone’s battery died (so I didn’t get any photos of my food. Note to self: bring a backup digital camera next time.). You can see more photos of the gorgeous dining rooms here.


photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

Sepulveda dining room – photo by Dean Curtis, 2014


photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

San Millán dining room, a portion of the parish house of San Millán acquired and installed in 1995, the centenary of Casa Duque – photo by Dean Curtis, 2014


Casa Duque’s specialties are Segovian roasted meats, such as cochinillo asado and lechal asado (roasted lamb), both cooked in the wood fired oven. Another specialty is Judiones de La Granja Gran Duque, giant white beans grown on the family farm in La Granja stewed with partridge.


first course - photo by

first course – photo by

I went for the menú gastronómico, which was three courses: the first course was a sampler of chorizo (sausage), morcilla (blood sausage), judiones (huge white beans), sopita castellana (Castilian soup), and a pork loin picadillo (a hash of chopped meat), followed by a large portion of cochinillo, and for dessert a piece of the Segovian specialty ponche Segoviano (layer cake).


I couldn’t possibly finish the first course because I had to save room for the suckling pig, which is roasted very simply so it had a pure pork flavor with juicy meat that melted in my mouth and a salty, crispy skin. Delicious.


Explore the inside of the restaurant:


Casa Duque
Calle de Cervantes, 12, 40001 Segovia, Spain
Phone: +34 921 46 24 87
Open daily 12:00pm – 5:30pm, 8:30pm – 11:30pm



Little Red Barn, San Antonio, Texas

A couple of years ago we visited the outstanding Barn Door Steakhouse in San Antonio. Today we’ll step into the Little Red Barn, which is a casual, western-style steakhouse with good food at reasonable prices.


photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015


The Little Red Barn was opened in 1963 in an old meat market by Ralph and Lili Hernandez. It was casual, with picnic tables for seating and the menus and cattle brands painted on the walls (as it still is today). Ralph was butcher and cook and Lili was the waitress and cashier. The place grew from a small restaurant with 8 picnic tables over the years into a large restaurant that can seat 800 customers, making it the largest steakhouse in Texas! And to boot, it’s still owned by the Hernandez family.


photo by

photo by


photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015


At the door you are greeted by a hostess in a western plaid shirt, jeans, and cowboy hat, who takes you to your table, where a chilled salad has mysteriously already been placed for your eating enjoyment. A choice of dressings (all made from scratch, daily, and available to take home) is offered. I opted for the Green Goddess.



The servers are dressed in cowgirl outfits that vary a bit, all in black and white, some in black with white fringe. All wear a cowboy hat and a neckerchief. This is the only restaurant left that still does this, that I know of. The Steak Corral in Whittier still did when I visited about 15 years ago but it looks like the servers are just wearing jeans and blue shirts these days.


photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015


delicious rolls - photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

delicious rolls – photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

The server brings you a menu board with a large variety of steaks and seafood. All dinners come with salad, a house made roll, and choice of potato or green beans. The steaks are cut daily by in-house butchers, the beef is ground daily, and the sides, dressings, and desserts are made from scratch.



T-bone steak

T-bone steak


I ordered the T-Bone Steak with a baked potato. The steaks come on distinctive metal platters.





Be sure and look around the restaurant at the humorous artworks painted on the walls. One of the dining rooms was closed while we were there but they kindly turned on the lights so we could see the walls, covered with wonderful cartoons like this:


photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015


If you had to choose between the many steakhouses in San Antonio, you have two types: the fine dining steakhouses like Bohanans (review coming soon) and Little Rhein and the casual steakhouses like Barn Door and Little Red Barn. Between these casual steakhouses you could choose by proximity: Barn Door is near the airport, and Little Red Barn is close to downtown. Either one is a good choice, but if you want something fun and quick, Little Red Barn is my pick (though the steaks are a cut above at the Barn Door).


Little Red Barn
1836 S Hackberry St, San Antonio, TX 78210
(210) 532-4235
Open Mon-Thu 11:00am – 8:30pm, Fri-Sat 11:00am – 9:30pm, Sun 12:00pm – 8:00pm


Offbeat L.A.: The Oldest Surviving Los Angeles Restaurants

Source: Offbeat L.A.: The Oldest Surviving Los Angeles Restaurants… A Master List of the Vintage, Historic and Old School | The LA Beat

Recently an incredible list of classic, vintage restaurants in Los Angeles and vicinity (up to an hours drive away), sorted by year opened at current location, was posted on The LA Beat blog.

Le Continental thanks Nikki Kreuzer and the folks at the LA Beat for all the research and work that went into this list!

The Jab has eaten at 81 of the restaurants on the list, but that leaves plenty more to do! Here are my top picks on the list that I have not visited yet (descriptions by the LA Beat):

Golden Spur, Glendora – 1918

photo by Zen905 on

photo by Zen905 on


Classic mid-century steakhouse on Route 66 that started as a horse ride-up burger stand. Amazing vintage sign of a cowboy boot with spur attached & great vintage interior.

Valley Inn, Sherman Oaks 1947

Old school steakhouse with round black leather booths and an attached vintage bar.

Steven’s Steakhouse, Commerce – 1952

Steakhouse with spectacular signs, leather booths, beveled glass & a vintage bar.

Ernie’s Mexican Restaurant, N. Hollywood – 1952

Classic mid-century Mexican with two dining areas & a bar; dimly lit with leather booths.

Little Toni’s, North Hollywood 1956

Opened in the mid-’50s in place of Cottage Italia and serving Italian-American food, this restaurant has an authentic old school vibe. Dark, with red leather booths, stained glass, wood & Italian inspired decor.

Corky’s Restaurant, Sherman Oaks – 1958

Authentic Googie diner with river rock exterior, vintage interior and cocktail lounge.

Tortilla Inn, Northridge – 1959

Old school, family-owned Mexican restaurant with a dimly-lit atmosphere, red leather booths and separate bar.

Arthur’s Restaurant, Downey – 1961

Authentic ’60s diner with wood paneled walls, olive green leather booths, wood laminate tables and original front sign.

La Cave, Costa Mesa 1962

Old-school steak and seafood. Dark and romantic, located downstairs in a cellar. John Wayne was a regular.

The San Franciscan, Torrance – 1963

Old school steakhouse. Vintage signage, red leather booths, classic early 1960s.

Taco Lita, Arcadia – 1967

Americanized fast-food Mexican served in a spectacularly original late ’60s building. Bright orange tiled floors, blue molded plastic seats and original signs.

The Backwoods Inn, Canyon Country – 1968

Rustic mid-century steakhouse with saw dust on the floor, wood, antiques & a bar built in 1978.

Brolly Hut, Inglewood 1968

Spectacular vintage building shaped like an umbrella, serving fast-food hamburger fair. Upside-down umbrellas serve as light fixtures, vintage mosaic tiles, amazing original sign.

La Villa Mexican Restaurant, Gardena – 1969

Mexican food in a bright brick & shingle building. Original neon sign; interior decoration leans toward late ’60s country cottage with a Southwest flavor.

La Poubelle, Los Angeles – 1969

Classic French bistro food in a space with a solid wooden bar, dim lights and European inspired decor.

Spaghetti Bender, Newport Beach – 1969

Italian restaurant with an old school country kitschy dining room that hasn’t been remodeled since 1976.

Antonio’s Restaurant, Los Angeles – 1970

Opened before Melrose became trendy, this Mexican restaurant is dark, with an old school feel, including wrought iron, Mexican tile and walls full of old photos.

Alfredo’s Granada, Burbank – 1971

Early ’70s decor with a tile-roofed Mexican hacienda disguising the kitchen.

Gardens of Taxco, West Hollywood – 1971

Mexican food. Prix fixe menu recited by a waiter. Dark interior with red leather booths.

El Compadre, Los Angeles – 1975

Classic Mexican food. Dark, with an old world hacienda feeling, leather booths and flaming margaritas.

Don Antonio’s, Los Angeles – 1982

Dark and cozy, red leather booths and a “cave room” complete with stalactites.

Paoli’s, Woodland Hills – 1984

East coast Italian feel. Small piano bar with a vintage feel and a separate bar area.


A lot of old school Mexican restaurants to try (one of my favorite kinds of restaurant)! And those are just a few of the ones I have not been to yet. There are also loads of quick meal type places I need to try (like hamburger and hot dog stands). For the curious, here is my list of visited restaurants on the list (if city not noted it’s in Los Angeles):

Philippe the Original 1908
Cole’s 1908
Watson Drugs, Orange 1915
Musso and Frank 1919
Pacific Dining Car 1921
Tam O’Shanter 1922
The Pantry 1924
Joe Jost, Long Beach 1924
Formosa Cafe 1925El Cholo 1927
Casa La Golondrina 1930
Clifton’s 1931
Canter’s 1931
El Coyote 1931
Mrs. Knott’s Fried Chicken, Buena Park 1934
The Galley, Santa Monica 1934
Tom Bergin’s 1936
Damon’s 1937
Du-par’s, Farmers Market 1938
The Derby, Arcadia 1938
Harbor House Cafe, Sunset Beach 1939
Pink’s Hot Dogs 1939
The Sycamore Inn, Rancho Cucamonga 1939
The Polo Lounge 1940
Hop Louie 1941
Snug Harbor, Santa Monica 1941
Bun ‘n Burger, Alhambra 1941
Nate ‘n Al, Beverly Hills 1945
Barone’s, Valley Glen 1945
The Smokehouse 1946 (current location 1949)
Billingsley’s 1946
Tommy’s 1946 – original location on Beverly
Chili John’s, Burbank 1946
Clearman’s Steak ‘n Stein, Pico Rivera 1946
Rod’s Grill, Arcadia 1946
Casa Escobar, various 1946
Gus’s Barbeque, Pasadena 1946
Langer’s Deli 1947
Apple Pan 1947
HMS Bounty 1948
Bob’s Big Boy Burbank 1949
Miceli’s 1949
Crab Cooker, Newport Beach 1951
The Hat 1951 – Alhambra location
Johnnies Pastrami 1952
Tony’s on the Pier, Redondo Beach 1952
The Bear Pit, Mission Hills 1953
Taylor’s 1953 (current 1970)
Dresden 1954
The Venice Room, Monterey Park 1955
Casa Bianca Pizza, Eagle Rock 1955
The Magic Lamp 1955
La Palma Chicken Pie Shop, Anaheim 1955
Casa Vega, Sherman Oaks 1956
Safari Room, Mission Hills 1957
Norm’s Restaurant, West Hollywood 1957
Pann’s 1958
Dal Rae, Pico Rivera 1958
Rae’s Coffee Shop, Santa Monica 1958
Chez Jay, Santa Monica 1958
Titos Tacos, Culver City 1959
Ports ‘O Call, San Pedro 1961
Viva Cantina, Burbank 1962
Dear John’s, Culver City 1962
El Cid 1963
Pie ‘n Burger, Pasadena 1963
Dan Tana’s, West Hollywood 1964
Tony Bella Vista Restaurant, Burbank 1965
The Steak Corral, Whittier 1965
The Prospector, Long Beach 1965
El Chavo 1965
Clearman’s Northwoods Inn, San Gabriel 1966
La Dolce Vita, Beverly Hills 1966
Clearman’s Northwoods Inn, Covina 1967
Brent’s Deli, Northridge 1967
Casa Escobar, Santa Monica 1967
Dinah’s Chicken, Glendale 1967
Don Cuco, Toluca Lake 1969
Pinocchio Italian Restaurant, Burbank 1971
Oomasa, Little Tokyo 1972
The Prince  1991 (in the French Windsor, 1949)

Mi Tierra Cafe, San Antonio, Texas

Currently I’m reading Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food by Jeffrey M. Pilcher. It debunks a lot of misconceptions and myths about what is ‘authentic’ Mexican food by showing the changes in Mexican cuisine through history and its regional variation. Le Continental feels that the word ‘authentic’ is overused, often misused, and almost always given too much importance when it comes to cuisine. Basically, I think you’re better off completely ignoring the word and just eating what you like, not what people say you should like. An ‘authentic’ Rembrandt is one thing, an ‘authentic’ taco is quite another (and, in fact, meaningless).




Although there were a few Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles and San Antonio in the 19th century, the spread of Mexican restaurants in America dates back to the turn of the century when Otis M. Farnsworth opened the Original Mexican Restaurant in San Antonio. It was a fancy place, where men had to wear jackets, and waiters in white jackets served enchiladas, chile rellenos, tamales, chili, rice, and beans on individual fine china plates, not as ‘combination plates’. Soon, copycat “Original’ Mexican restaurants were popping up in Texas. Mexican food in what is now Texas has slowly evolved its own style since it was part of Spain in the 18th century. Early dishes in this area include chili con carne, popular since the mid-19th century, grilled beef steak (carne asada and barbacoa), and wheat flour tortillas, to name a few items. More recently, Tex-Mex has added the puffy taco (a filled deep-fried masa shell, c.1940s), nachos (1940s), and fajitas (1960s).




Felix Tijerina was born near Monterrey, Mexico, and moved to Houston as an adult to work at the Original Mexican Restaurant there. In 1929 he opened his own place, the Mexican Inn, and eventually he operated a chain of Felix Mexican Restaurants in Texas, that served Americanized Mexican food such as “spaghetti con chile”, tacos, and cheese enchiladas.




In 1930 Consuelo Castillo de Bonzo, Mexico-born but raised in California, opened Casa La Golondrina on Olvera Street in Los Angeles, promoting it as a “Mexican restaurant” (El Cholo in Los Angeles dates back to 1927, but it offered “Spanish food” in those days). By the 1940s the restaurant was serving ‘combination plates’ of dishes from Castilla’s mother’s original recipes. It’s still open, by the way, and still operated by the de Bonzo family.




Back east, Juvencio Maldonado, from the Yucatán, and his wife Paz, from Mérida, opened a restaurant called Xóchitl (flower) in 1938 on West 46th Street in New York City. Tortillas were made fresh, and exotic dishes such as mole, chilaquiles, and cactus salad were served, as well as hard shell tacos, enchiladas, and tostadas. He patented the first mechanical taco fryer in 1950 so his chefs didn’t have to fry every shell by hand (beating Glen Bell, founder of Taco Bell, by a few years, who developed his own fryer because he didn’t know about Maldonado’s) and he even sold the pre-made shells to consumers.


photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015


Back in San Antonio, Pete and Cruz Cortez opened a small café in the Mercado (the historic market square) in 1941. Today it is still owned by the Cortez family, and it’s now a huge place, with a bar, bakery, and restaurant, which is open 24-hours a day.


statue near entrance - photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

statue near entrance – photo by Dean Curtis, 2015


Upon entering the restaurant there is the panaderia, open since 1957, with a long display case of baked goods for sale. On the right is the entrance to the Mariachi Bar, which was built from oak in 1989. Strolling musicians are a constant presence at Mi Tierra, adding to the festivity. It is customary to pay $5 to a musician after each song performed.


panaderia - photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

panaderia – photo by Dean Curtis, 2015


Beyond the panaderia are multiple dining rooms, all brightly lit and decorated colorfully.


photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015


The menu is large, with all the typical Mexican entrees, Tex-Mex favorites, breakfast served 24-hours/day, and specialties such as chile rellenos, beef ribs, carnitas, cabrito (goat), the El Rancho Special (simmered beef or pork in sauce), steaks, and chicken mole. A great appetizer is the queso flameado, melted jack cheese topped with housemade sausage.


mural room - photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

mural room – photo by Dean Curtis, 2015


photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015


Make sure you look in the mural banquet room. The walls are covered with a mural of Latino leaders and celebrities called “The American Dream”, there’s a shrine to Selena, and a portrait of President Clinton jogging while wearing a Mi Tierra t-shirt!






photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015



Mi Tierra Cafe
800 Dolorosa #204, San Antonio, TX 78207
Open daily 24-hours


Le Chalet Basque, San Rafael, California

A quick post today because I have to pack for a trip to Austin and San Antonio!

Recently a friend suggested we meet for dinner at Le Chalet Basque in San Rafael. I had no idea this restaurant existed (or it was so long ago when I visited that I forgot)! I’m a big fan of western U.S. style Basque restaurants (and Picon punch) and I work in San Rafael, so I have a new favorite local spot!


photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015


Hidden away between the Marin Civic Center and China Camp State Park, Le Chalet Basque opened in 1962 and is now owned by Roger Minhondo from Irissary, France, who was chef at the restaurant in the 1970s and previously owned The Normandy and Guernica restaurants in Marin. The menu includes many beef, lamb, chicken, seafood, and veal dishes, and French and Spanish Basque specialties such as Rabbit Chasseur, Tripes a La Mode, Sweet Breads Financiere, Lamb Shank with Beans, and Frogs Legs. You will even find some Italian dishes if you’re in the mood for that. Dinners come with homemade soup or salad and for a little extra you can get a family style dinner that includes pâté and delicious rice pudding or ice cream.


Sirloin of Lamb Bordelaise - photo by Dean Curtis

Sirloin of Lamb Bordelaise – photo by Dean Curtis


There’s a full bar with vintage bar stools, lots of outdoor seating on a lovely patio, and the classically simple dining rooms in white and burgundy linens with mid-century stained wood, open-beamed ceilings and many windows throughout.


Le Chalet Basque
405 N San Pedro Rd, San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 479-1070
Open Tue-Fri 11:30am-10:30pm, lunch served 11:30-2:00, dinner 5:00-9:00pm
Sat-Sun 4:00pm-10:30pm, dinner 4:00-9:00pm